Posts Tagged The Times

Overdosing on homeopathy: there’s nothing in it

10:23, London, 2010 (photo by Kelly Haddow)

10:23, London, 2010 (photo by Kelly Haddow

This post was originally a guest post I wrote for The Times Eureka science blog, which can be found behind the paywall.

On Sunday, February 6th, at precisely 10:23am, I will be hoping over a thousand people around the world will have spent the last 24 hours joining me in a so-called mass “overdose”.

Don’t worry, I’m not following in the footsteps of Jim Jones, nor will there be any Kool-Aid anywhere to be seen. Instead, there will be 28 countries, 69 cities and over one 1023 consumer rights activists, each passionate about spreading genuine healthcare information. And there will be a hell of a lot of little homeopathic pills.

Let me explain. In September 2009, myself and a couple of other members of the Merseyside Skeptics Society (a non-profit, voluntary organisation set up to promote critical thinking) settled on a project to help spread genuine information about what homeopathic remedies are, and how they are produced. Opinion polls suggested members of the public thought homeopathic products were synonymous with ‘herbal’, ‘natural’ and ‘chemical-free’ – when in reality they couldn’t be further from all of those things.

Faced with this low level of public understanding, the £4million+ per year spent by the NHS on homeopathy was hard to swallow, and out of the frustration at this disconnection the 10:23 Campaign was born. The aim was simple, to raise awareness among the public that homeopathy is not a valid or useful medical alternative, due to thestupendously dilute nature of each remedy. Put simply: ‘There’s Nothing In It’.

After much careful planning, by the 30th January 2010 we’d raised such interest in the campaign that we’d gathered over 350 protestors in more than a dozen UK cities. Each supporter came armed with an off-the-shelf remedy from their local Boots pharmacy (the high street giant drawing particular ire for their admission that they sell homeopathic products not because they work, but because they sell), and a simple mandate – at the stroke of 10:23am, they were to swallow the entire contents of the homeoapthic vial. The event is pictured above (photo by Kelly Haddow).

In reality, somewhat disappointingly, this amounted to a rather meagre capfull of little sugary balls – while homeopathy is nonsense, it’s also a very expensive nonsense (gram for gram, homeopathic pills sell for twice the price of sterling silver). Still, the event must have proven to be something of a spectacle, as it garnered a quite staggering level of media attention, spreading our message that there really is nothing in homeopathic remedies. Read the rest of this entry »

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